Lady T-Birds Get Revenge On Eagles In Cheney
CHENEY, Wash. - After losing a one-point game to the Eagles back in January, the Southern Utah women’s basketball team returned the favor in Cheney Wednesday night, beating the Eagles 64-63.
“Every team wants to go into the tournament with some recent wins under their belt,” head coach Chris Boettcher said after the win. “The last three games we have been scoring a lot of points, playing with confidence on offense, battling hard on defense and that gives us a boost of confidence going into it. Like we’ve said all year, the conference is wide open when it comes to the tournament. Any team can beat any team.”
The Thunderbirds came out strong in the first quarter leading by as many eight points at one point. Jamie Smith and Jessica Richardson each had six points when the quarter came to an end with the T-Birds leading the Eagles 16-12.
The Eagles responded in the second quarter scoring 19 points while holding the Thunderbirds to just 11. When halftime rolled around EWU had taken a 31-27 lead and seemed to have the momentum in their favor.
The rest of the game was a back-and-forth battle with both teams trading buckets and leads. The biggest lead of the second half was an eight-point lead by the Thunderbirds with just 4:41 remaining in the game. The Eagles were able to cut that lead down to just one twice in the final minutes, but were never able to regain the lead as the Thunderbirds held them off for the 64-63 victory.
With the Eagles defense focused on the play of the Thunderbird seniors, Kiana Johnson took advantage and had a career night. She scored seven points in the first half and 13 points in the second half on her way to a career-high, leading all scorers with 20 points. Johnson scored most of her points from behind the arc, finishing 4-7 from three-point range.
“Really excited for Kiana,” Boettcher said. “She has been working hard all season to get herself ready and hasn’t been able to catch too many breaks because we are pretty deep at that position, but tonight we were able to get her more minutes and it paid off big time.”
Jamie Smith continued her hot streak shooting five for six from the floor with 15 points. Darri Frandsen earned her eleventh double-double of the season, putting up 13 points and pulling in 12 rebounds.
Wednesday’s win had Big Sky tournament seeding consequences for both teams. The Thunderbirds now have a chance to take the 11th seed in the tournament depending on Montana’s record in the final week of the season. The Eagles are now forced to win their game against Northern Arizona on Friday in order to secure a bye in the first round of the tournament.
The Lady T-Birds will wrap up their regular season Friday night in Moscow against the Idaho Vandals.
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Big Sky Conference Championship TournamentYou can now purchase your tickets to the Big Sky Conference Championship Tournament. The tournament starts on March 6th in Reno, Nevada. Get your tickets at tbirdtickets.com.